Christine Smith: My America
by Christine Smith
I have written a number of political pieces regarding issues in our society, but there remains far more topics upon which I have developed an opinion based on extensive reading and listening to intelligent thoughtful discussions.
Thus, I decided to create a list of ideas I believe are attainable, expressing my opinion on a number of issues. The list, of course, is not exhaustive, nor does it (for brevity sake) develop the path by which these outcomes might be achieved (though links for further reading/research are provided). Agree or disagree with my opinions, may this list provoke its readers to unemotionally think about and explore different perspectives regarding the serious problems our nation is struggling with.
Thus, I share a few of my opinions which I envision would create the America deserved by the people; an America, as Lincoln expressed, with a "government of the people, by the people, for the people":
1. Bush and Cheney impeached.
2. Elimination of the "Patriot Act"; restoration of the American civil liberties we have lost; return to a republic governed/guided by Constitutional law with citizen rights upheld.
3. Immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
4. Focus on security of our nation including stockpiling of antibiotics and other medical supplies for the people in case of national disaster (natural or terrorism). Due to threat of bio-terrorism, emphasis on preparation/provision of needed supplies for American people in worst case scenario.
5. Defending our nation against terrorism by elimination of the "War on Terror." American lives and billions of dollars will not be used for imperialistic powergrabs; our military and military budget will be used for self-defense of our nation on our soil. Protecting America will be the priority, not invading sovereign nations, losing American military men and women, and slaughtering innocent civilians in the name of self-defense or in the name of spreading "democracy." Neither outright war (or covert actions) will be engaged in against nations posing no direct threat to our nation. We will focus on rebuilding democracy in our nation, and other nations will be left to the fate of whatever form of government they choose--their civil wars are theirs to fight--not ours. Similarly, no arms dealings with countries that abuse human rights and/or engage in aggression. Our priority will be America and Americans. We will adopt an isolationist policy so as to build a strong military defense. Security of the "homeland" in the "homeland" including air safety, ports, borders, etc. against foreign terrorists. When it is necessary for defense of our nation, we will fight with a well-trained well equipped military, but we will not engage in needless aggressive battles as we have for years.
6. Maintain a strong well-equipped and well-trained military; always ensure adequate financial (and medical) benefits to active-duty military men and women and their families and to veterans for their service. Maintain a strong National Guard for security at home/domestic emergencies to protect life and property within our nation; its deployment internationally to conduct overseas combat limited to extreme cases when a legitimate war requires additional soldiers.
7. Decrease military budget by ending unnecessary foreign interventions and waste, with some of that money applied toward immediate overhaul of the American education system--education becoming one of the top priorities of the nation, as well as social welfare-provision of basic necessities to our people.
8. A constitutional convention.
9. Recognized and respected business leaders of our nation selected to negotiate/oversee foreign trade polices and treaties.
10. Accountability at all levels of government enforced by criminal not civil law; thereby giving citizens with grievances/evidence/suspicion about illegalities of any government official a means to hold them legally accountable under criminal law. Entity formed to receive citizen complaints and evidence of possible governmental corruption with the legal power to bring charges against elected officials when sufficient evidence justifying prosecution is provided, or if adequate evidence to justify further investigation is offered, investigation of citizen complaint will happen. It should not be up to citizens to enforce the laws when it comes to use of their tax money and conduct of elected officials. Thus laws regarding elected offices, their powers and accountability to the public would become enforceable under criminal law.
11. Respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . Violations committed by Americans subject to the International Criminal Court . International law respected and abided by. No support (due to political expediency) to world leaders who themselves violate human rights of their people.
13. Lift all restrictions imposed upon Cuban-American relations and commerce; respect Cuban sovereignty.
14. Leave the Middle East alone. End our enormous degree of financial aid to Israel. Middle Eastern conflicts with Israel (a nation with a powerful army, and a nuclear power) is Israel's business to negotiate (or fight)...not America's. America will cease its quest to maintain/gain geopolitical control in Middle East. Arab territories and their natural resources are theirs to control and sell to whom they wish. America to focus on self-sufficiency; end dependency on Arab resources; with taxpayer money used for betterment of American lives and our security not foreign governments and their conflicts.
15. Campaign/electoral reform. Abolish the electoral college; make every American's vote count. Voting (and the process used to do so) one of this nation's top priorities...ensuring accurate just voting and vote tabulation. Elimination of private companies providing voting machinery. Verifiable voting. Fair voting. Television/radio political advertising given equally to all candidates and only during a limited set time prior to the election--all candidates will have access to equal time on television and radio advertising. The people will be exposed to all candidates whether federal, state, or local through equal presentation in media. Third party candidates provided the opportunity to compete and debate.
16. Income tax abolished; with states and federal government developing a flat taxation (taxation on commodities) and/or gambling enterprises/lotteries to raise funds for projects and public services. The American people receive very little in return for the taxes we pay, and even as the current way of taxation exists, the money generated doesn't get transformed into much benefit to the people as it should. One way or another, establishment of a fair tax.
17. Travel (not directly related to business of the office politician elected to) by any politician eliminated at taxpayer expense (i.e.: expense for transportation, security, accommodations, etc. to be paid for by elected official if trip is not a necessary and direct duty of position held). Similarly, no tax monies used for propaganda or trips campaigning (No media to receive money from the government, and no government-produced propaganda presented as "news" stories to be made and distributed by media. Major examination/re-evaluation/and changes at all levels of government for what are permitted expenditures at taxpayer expense.
18. The government will not regulate the private lives of citizens--all laws regarding sexual activities between consenting adults stricken from the books.
19. Universal healthcare with freedom of choice; socialized medicine for all American citizens. Again, private enterprise medical care still available, but people would have choice.
20. Abolishment of property taxes; private property rights respected not only be eliminating property tax but also by severely restricted use of seizure of personal property by government for commercial use/profit versus public necessity or best interest (which would be determined democratically by the people in the area).
21. An end to the tax-free status of churches and clergy. (I favor abolishment of the federal and state taxation of income entirely; but as the current system is set up, I do not think churches/clergy should be given tax-free status. True charitable work and perhaps community churches engaged in charitable works would be an exception.)
22. Equal treatment under the law for all--no discriminatory practices permitted by the military, etc. (such as against homosexual behavior.) Likewise, no laws making some crimes worse than others based on assumed motives-- every crime to be judged on the law broken not who committed the crime, who a victim was, or why. Equality under law for all; strong enforcement of the existing laws we have protecting all individuals of our nation.
23. Give states more sovereignty; states responsible unto themselves for taxation and the economic needs unique to and for their state.
24. Basic necessities such as electricity not controlled by capitalists; as well as other areas such as insurance coverage--an alternative insurance program for home, auto, etc. available to those who wish to participate. People would have choice whether to purchase private insurance or government-funded/affordable insurance and other such necessities. The private sector would still compete and offer services and products, but consumers would have an alternative. The free market is excellent for most/many goods and services; but the for-profit motive of uncontrolled capitalism must be removed from essential needs of human life. A blend of socialism and capitalism to maintain the free market economy in most areas of our lives giving us the ingenuity of creative endeavors and achievements and the rewards for those who produce and create, while simultaneously providing for all the basic necessities of life such as food, housing, healthcare, education, and areas such as water, electricity, etc. We are a wealthy nation; I believe that at the current rate of taxation, we as citizens should receive far more benefits back than we do--untreated illness, poverty, homelessness are social ills we could eliminate.
25. Every state to have a strong legal self defense system/services for the indigent charged with a criminal violation.
26. Remove existing censorship (radio, tv); this would include prohibiting schools who receive federal government funding from banning literary-recognized and educational books from their library shelves and curriculum due to language, prejudices against homosexual content, discrimination against certain writers, or any other non-educational based bias. Any institution receiving federal funding would be unable to engage in such censorship.
27. Gun ownership protected for citizens; any "checking" prior to firearm sales automated via Internet for quick access so that waiting periods are minimal.
28. Legalization of drugs. End the "war on drugs,"; the government could even sell drugs reaping the financial benefit; use proceeds to fund abuse centers (voluntary) for those who seek assistance in ending addictions.
29. Legalization of prostitution.
30. Prisons transformed into places of learning, growth, with every opportunity for those who seek knowledge, skills, and education provided; abolishment of excessive telephone charges for families to stay in touch with loved ones in prison; Emphasis on programs to help former prisoners re-enter/transition into society. Every prison staffed with an independent advocate office to receive, investigate, and take action for any report of abuse or other grievances from inmates. Abolish for-profit prisons. Also, elimination of all profit-making from prisoner's needs--basic necessities such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, antiperspirant, etc. provided to inmates at no charge; similarly, inmate labor will not be exploited--any labor performed on a volunteer basis by inmates choosing to participate in work programs will be paid a fair wage.
31. Prisoners given the right to vote.
32. Workers rights protected; increased health and safety provisions/requirements for all employers--safety of the worker paramount; all workers have right to form unions and strike. Minimum wage greatly increased (economist to examine to determine true living wage proportionate to economy and inflation.)
33. Access to our public lands to remain free; with federal lands and protection of their ecosystems a priority. Federally protected lands not subject to sale to commercial interests unless the people of the state choose so.
34. Counseling centers available--open to all--including youth with intervention available on behalf of any youth with emotional problems, disturbance, or unhappiness due to their "family" or "home" life...giving the youth of our nation the power and ability to choose to leave their "home" to be raised in/by special homes/schools when their family life is unbearable and psychologically unhealthy. The mental and emotional abuse of minors to be addressed just as seriously as physical and sexual abuse.
35. Public schools: No school-sponsored religious activities such as prayer and posting of religious articles, neither will religion be taught as science. Religion offered as an objective study in class such as in a historical context or comparative religions of the world, but no religious sectarian instruction will be permitted.
36. Super-rail transit between major American cities; emphasis on transportation availability between/within cities.
37. Humane treatment of all animals such as those raised for meat production; abolishment of factory farms where animals are severely confined, overcrowded, or otherwise treated inhumanely; an end to speciest cruelties inflicted upon animals in the name of research.
38. Adults may refuse medical treatment (though no adult may do so on behalf of a minor).
39. Sex education to begin in elementary school with age-appropriate materials; with contraception, disease prevention, and all sexual partnerships examined as part of curriculum.
40. I would want to see a true leader as President. One who loves our nation and places its Constitution and democratic values as the guiding principle. Around that president I would want an advisory board of objective experts regarding matters of economy, environment, defense, and Constitutional law. I believe major electoral reform may eventually provide us with true leaders from the presidency to senate and congress and all other offices throughout our nation. We need individuals who will rebuild the republic, uphold our Constitution, and who truly love America and want us to be a true light not by forcing our will onto others, but by example within our own nation providing for our own people.
Christine Smith is a writer, author of an internationally
popular book, social justice activist, and singer, now
developing a career as a model/actress. She was recipient
of The 2002 Outstanding American Award and the 2000 Amigas
Peace Prize. Read more at her website